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Digital media artist Sam Cannon’s portfolio of expertly crafted gifs displays her abilities to create engaging and stimulating work for commercial clients and, in her personal work, the ability to create intriguing and surreal works that celebrate the grotesque. The New York-based designer studied at Rochester Institute of Technology and has worked with the likes of Gap, Veuve Cliquot, and Nike. We caught up with Sam to find out more about her approach.
How did you develop your approach? Why choose gifs over stills or film?
Gifs began as a way for me to post small experiments online. I would share snippets of video pieces I was working on, or something I shot with my phone very quickly that I thought might later develop into a more serious project. I’ve always been interested in working with motion, but not necessarily long form narrative, and the gif format became the perfect medium for me to create the type of short, looping pieces I am obsessed with. There are also a lot of technical issues that come with a file type that is so limiting, and I found that challenge really exciting and motivating.
What do you look to communicate when working on commercial projects? What are clients asking you to produce?
I want to mesmerise my viewer. I want them to stop scrolling through their feed and sit with the image. This is true for my commercial work as well as my personal work, and my clients know that my goal is always to bring that feeling of a quiet, beautiful moment to all of my work.
Your personal work has a darker, more surreal edge to it. What freedom do these projects offer you? What themes are you exploring?
I use my personal work as a way to explore new challenges and ideas, both technically and conceptually. I do a lot of video collage with the human form which lets me experiment with new ways of compositing and trying to seamlessly loop motion without it ending up feeling too robotic and repetitive. My favourite personal work is centred around the themes of time, the female body, and digital manipulation, but I also still like to do short fun experiments (like the skull chewing gum).
What do you have planned for the year ahead?
This year I am hoping to exhibit more of my personal work. I just showed three pieces at SPRING/BREAK and it was really refreshing to see the work live outside of the internet. I am excited to continue collaborating with my friends and fellow artists @zolloc and @traceloops, and am challenging myself to do more quick experiments in my down time to keep the creative juices flowing. Whenever I begin to feel stuck the worst thing I can do is sit still. It’s nice to have a few small projects on the side for when you need to change gears.
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